Speeding up Ansible Playbook runs

Ansible is a great tool for configuration management but because of the way it’s designed a common complaint is that it’s not as fast as other tools like Salt, Chef or Puppet. This is because Ansible doesn’t have an agent that listens (although it can) on a host and uses a different type of deployment methodology that is based on SSH. This post isn’t about the pros and cons of each tool, but rather about ways to improve upon Ansible’s default configuration values. By default Ansible ships with very conservative default values. This is smart in my opinion because it offers greater compatibility out-of-the-box. Here I highlight some safe adjustments that can be made to the default configuration for improved performance (speed!)

Real World Playbook Test

For this test I’m using a real-world playbook that I use in my homelab when provisioning a new CentOS VM. It configures some basic things (hostname, ssh keys, etc), installs common packages/utilities and tunes some OS configurations.

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A simple Ansible playbook for updating multiple Pihole DNS

I wrote a very simple little playbook for updating my local DNS records for my piholes. For me it’s easier than manually ssh’ing onto each node and editing a file and restarting the service. Here’s the playbook:


#!/usr/bin/env ansible-playbook

- hosts: ns-01, ns-02
gather_facts: yes
sudo: yes
- name: TASK | Copy dnsmasq config for cbnet
template: src=templates/02-localnet.conf.j2 dest=/etc/dnsmasq.d/02-localnet.conf force=yes
- name: TASK | Copy updated dns file
template: src=templates/localnet.list.j2 dest=/etc/pihole/localnet.list force=yes
- name: TASK | Restart dnsmasq
name: dnsmasq
state: restarted

This playbook adds a DNSmasq config file for my local network and copies a template file (dnsmasq include file for my local network) and restarts DNSmasq. Here is the template (sample):
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